Did you know that Melrose was the first Borders town to be awarded with the “Walkers are Welcome” status in 2010? This means that we have been recognised as a town that has something special to offer walkers, whether that’s a stroll along the river for a couple of hours, or a full day of walking to blow away the cobwebs. A short, or a longer walk, gives you a new perspective on life, and the Scottish Borders (in our biased opinion) is the perfect walking destination.
One of the great outcomes of our status is that a Paths Around Melrose booklet has been produced with 11 walks in and around the town with detailed instructions for each route, giving locals and visitors a wealth of walks to discover. As a family we love walking and between us all have tried out each of the eleven walks in the booklet. We would recommend all of the walks, but thought we would choose just three to give you a flavour of the walks on offer.
The first featured walk we have chosen is the Gattonside Circular, which is ideal if you want a walk along the River Tweed to fill up an hour or two after breakfast, or for an afternoon stroll. The walk takes you along the river from Melrose to the Lowood Bridge (constructed in 1762) which takes you over the river and into the village of Gattonside. You then can walk through this historic village which was once the place for the orchard of Melrose Abbey. Names relating to the Abbey are still visible in the village such as Friar’s Close. Another claim to fame is that one of its former residents was Sir David Brewster who invented the kaleidoscope. At the far end of the village you turn down towards the famous chain bridge which takes you back over the river to Melrose. The bridge was built in 1825 and it was originally a toll bridge and you can still see the toll booth and signs for payment today.
A slightly longer walk from Melrose to the home of Sir Walter Scott. This walk would take up a morning, or an afternoon, or longer if you take time to enjoy all that Abbotsford House has to offer. Starting in Melrose, at the old railway station, this walk takes you along what was the original railway line to the village of Darnick and its wonderful community woodland, the walk is well sign posted from here to Abbotsford House. The house was originally a farm called Cartleyhole, but was transformed by Sir Walter Scott into the stunning house that you see today. The house can boast that it is one of the oldest attractions to be open to the public, opening its doors five months after Sir Walter Scott’s death in 1832. Thanks to National Lottery funding, Abbotsford House was restored and a magnificent visitor centre built, which houses a free exhibition about the life and work of Sir Walter Scott, a gift shop and a restaurant. All in all, this makes a great day out.
Finally, we had to include one of our favourite walks, the Eildon Hills. The Eildon’s look down on Melrose and are the start of the St Cuthbert’s way (which takes you from the Scottish Borders to Holy Island). They are worth walking up in their own right, as the views at the top of each of the three hills allow you not just to gaze back down to Melrose, but take in most of the central Borders, north towards Edinburgh and south to the Cheviot hills on the Scottish/English border. There are various paths you can take to climb the Eildon’s with differing lengths of walks. From walking to the village of St Boswells (and if you are feeling very energetic following the River Tweed back to Melrose). For the not so energetic, there is a regular bus from St Boswells back to Melrose. Or climbing to the scenic Bowden Loch. Or finally simply taking the route from Melrose and back again via Melrose Golf Club. Whatever route that you take, you will be rewarded with fantastic views and a sense of achievement as you gaze back up at the Eildon’s on your return.
These three routes give you a taste of the walks included in the Paths Around Melrose booklet. We have supplies of the booklet in both Burts and the Townhouse and would also be delighted to advise you which walk might be best for you.
Remember to bring your walking boots!